Monday, July 17, 2017

TED talk - How to grow fresh air indoors ?

Money plant that release abundant oxygen can be easily grown indoors .
How to grow fresh air indoors ?? What are the challenges offered by urban living as opposed to rural living. We find that we are living in more congested and constricted places indoors for more than 12 hours a day, forget about the sleeping time. 

This is an exciting TEDx talk (app. 4.5 min) on how some plants can help in aiding healthy indoor living. As more and more citizens move to densely populated cities, we need more of indoor plants giving out abundant oxygen, which is going to be an essential  requirement for healthy urban living in the coming centuries ..

Click here for the TED video on how to grow fresh air indoors ??

Here is a youtube video on how to grow money plant indoors ..

george..

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sitting is the new smoking !!

Sitting for prolonged hours is dangerous ..
(Fro the internet, very useful message ..)

You may have heard the statement "Sitting is the New Smoking!" When I first heard this saying, I thought it was crazy. Sitting is NOT like smoking.
But recently, I looked more into it, and it completely changed my outlook on one aspect of health that most people neglect.

Here's the problem: we sit an average of 9 to 10 hours a day. So we sit more than we sleep. We sit more than we stand or do any activity. 

We sit in our cars. We sit to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We sit to work. We sit to watch TV. We sit at the movie theater. We sit at the dentist's office. We sit everywhere.


What's the problem with so much sitting?
You'll be surprised to hear that it's not really "back pain" or any such thing (although, that can happen too!). The problem with so much sitting is that our bodies were not meant for it. For millions of years, we were in constant movement for 10-12 hours a day. 
Switch that to sitting for 10 hours, and there's no amount of exercise you can do that can undo the damage. Even if, after your day at the office, you went to the gym for two hours, it wouldn't negate the damage done by sitting. 
That's what led Dr. James Levine to coin the phrase "Sitting is the New Smoking!" 
When you stand, your body works very differently than when you sit. Sitting for hours a day causes the following damage ...
1. Because blood flow slows down, you increase your risk of heart disease. 
2. Your insulin is negatively affected by just one day of sitting 10 hours a day. 
3. Sitting increases your risk of cancer, for reasons we're still speculating about 
4. Perhaps it's the antioxidant processes that are engaged when we are in movement. 
5. Sitting compresses your body, slowing down digesting, leading to cramps, heartburn, constipation and bloating.  
6. Brain function slows down when we sit  
7. Your brain gets less blood and oxygen. 
8. Because of the above, mood worsens.  
9. Posture gets worse, leading to strained neck and shoulders. 
10. Your entire body degenerates when you sit 10 hours a day  
11. Standing requires tensing of the abdominal muscles.  
12. Sitting leads to weak abs, leading to mobility issues. 
13. Varicose veins develop. 
14. Your bones get weaker.
One study found that you can increase your lifespan by two years by sitting down three hours or less a day.  Another study found that each hour spent watching TV after 25 reduces your life expectancy by 22 minutes.
On the other hand, each cigarette reduces your life expectancy by 11 minutes.
 -----------------

Hence… sitting is the new smoking! It kills you much faster than smoking !! Get moving your buttocks quick and fast !! 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Start small for a greener planet - reduce your Carbon footprints..

Ask oneself - Do I make conscious efforts to personally have a sustainable life style ?

Always stick to the 3Rs - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle 

These are a set of humble instructions in all the everyday actions in our life, which if followed by everyone will help make planet earth a more greener place to live..

1. Living and surroundings
a. make more use of natural lighting and wind circulation
b. keep surroundings clean
c. use more of cotton bags and less of polythene bags
d. always insist on less packaging for goods and food items
e. try to purchase more from kirana stores than from super markets
f. employ rainwater harvesting to preserve water
g. try to fast for at least half a day in a week or 2 days in a month
h. at source itself, try to segregate waste and prepare compost for organic waste
2. Food and drinks 

a. eat more of unprocessed and unpackaged food
b. eat less of meat, eggs, poultry and fish
c. eat more of locally available food, fruits, vegetables
d. use less of plastic bottles and packaged / processed drinks and water
3. Energy usage 
a. use energy efficient LED bulbs
b. maintain fans, pumps, motors etc regularly for efficient operation
c. switch off fans and lighting when not in use
d. switch off wi-fi routers and other electronic gadgets before one goes to sleep
4. Study / Games / Work environment

a. try to read and study in naturally lit and naturally ventilated rooms
b. try to use more of renewable energy sources like solar panels, wind turbines 
c. while organising sports or other events, be more green conscious
5. Transport 
a. make more use of public transport
b. try to walk more to your destination instead of taking automobile, it is very healthy too
c. if taking private transport, try to do more car-pooling
d. always insist on less storage and less transportation in the supply chain 
6. Socialising

a. go to clubs and entertainment centres near to home to avoid excess travel
b. network with social service NGO to take away excess food at special events

These are some simple steps one can take to make a sustainable world from our home or work environment. And if everyone on planet earth decides to do his bit for the environment, imagine how wonderful and peaceful this planet is going to be ..

ge...

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Sindhutai Sapkal from Pune ..

Some people come in our life as blessings, some come in as lessons - Mother Teresa
*Mother to 1400 orphans*, 70 year old Sindhutai Sapkal from Pune is doing great service to society, much more than what words can describe !! How tiny and selfish we are in comparison to this great Lady. 

Even to this day she does not depend on govt funding, but only on the he goodwill of kind hearted citizens.  

Her 80 year old abusive husband who drove her out on the roads when she was just 20, has repented and has come back to the family as her eldest son ..

Click here on the YouTube video  on the life of Sindhutai !!

Click here for a neat writeup from the betterindian site ..

George .. 

Thursday, July 06, 2017

How can companies make their transition to environmental sustainability smooth ?

Environmental Sustainability is a term detested by most of the industries and businesses in the world because it entails extra expenses, more regulations and extra headache. It challenges the status quo, profitability, competitiveness and even the survival of the organisation in the long run.

Everybody talks of going green, being sustainable and so on, but is there a strategic time-tested and proven method of carrying out sustainability transition in large and small organisations, that can make this transition less risky. This is one of the reasons why organisations detest to go green. But there are time tested strategies and illustrated in this paper of a research by a team led by late Prof. CK Prahlad and published in the Harvard Business Review. 

Sustainability has impact not only on the environment,
it has impact on the society and economy too.. 
While going through earlier issues of HBR (Sept 2009), I found that treating sustainability as a new frontier of innovation and creating great awareness of the future benefits through good communications was one way organisations could be made to transition to sustainability initiatives effectively.

In the research, Why sustainability is now the key driver of innovation, the authors have brought out five proactive steps, if adopted can make the sustainability and innovation journey of organisations quite productive and smooth. The five steps are mentioned here.

Step I - Viewing compliance as opportunity

Step II - Making value chains sustainable

Step III - Designing sustainable products and services

Step IV - Developing new Business Models

Step V - Creating next-practice platforms

In step I when we view compliance as an opportunity we tend to accept that sustainability is good for the society and the environment as a whole and change our mindsets and that of the society to take to environment preservation through sustainability initiatives as a top priority.

In step II, as the next step after recognising that sustainability is an inevitable activity, we need to follow it up not only with enforcing sustainability within only our organisations, but also sensitising our suppliers and supply chain partners to be more environmentally sensitive and to contribute to the well being of the environment.

In step III, having setup the supply chain to be environmentally conscious and sensitive, turn to getting advanced designs of one's own products and services which are environmentally sustainable, like electric cars, water less washing etc. 

In step IV, concentrate more on coming up with new business models like sustainable models of solar energy and wind energy generation, developing green buildings, adopting lean manufacturing across organisations etc..

In step V, creating next-practice platforms which have a radical look at conventional thinking and do away with many of the present day wasteful practices and customs can help design better revolutionary products that can not only serve human and societal needs but also come up with solutions that can take care of the environment and make it livable even for future generations. 

As much as it is important for organisations to have top-down commitment to foster sustainability measures, it is equally important for them to absorb and nurture the right quality workforce that respects and takes care of the environment and supports al sustainability initiatives of the organisation with full gusto and fervour.


george..

Ref : 1. Nidumolu, Prahlad, Rangaswami, Why sustainability now is the key driver of Innovation, Harvard Business Review, Sept, 2009.

Friday, June 30, 2017

If and when Alphabet / Google fails ..

Larry Page
The reality of the present day metropolitan lifestyle - Alphabet/Google influences more than 50% of a metropolitan citizen's alert life .. With the vast spread of the tentacles of the Internet, the rest of the world catching up is not far away. Look at the scenario below ..

We are all very comfortable presently logging into Google and carrying out our daily chores of communication, knowledge gathering, blogging, Google maps, you tube videos, searching, video calling, using Android smartphone etc..

What will happen if one day Google hangs up and the founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin decide to call it a day and go on a loooooong holiday ? (they are already among the top ten richest people on planet earth now with personal wealth of almost $50 billion each)

The whole world is used to Google apps and innovative offerings for almost everything in their lives. A very tricky situation which we need to ponder about ..  The result is the Google effect -
1. no friendly discussion with colleagues and friends,
2. coccooning effect - people tend to be to themselves most of the time and
3. intellectual laziness - a laziness to understand things, you just need to know which sources to tap for the knowledge, not the knowledge by itself. 
Socrates in 475 BC bemoaned the practice of writing saying it would kill the practice of memorising. Similarly the development of the Gutenberg's printing press in the 15th century, brought many people to decry it saying it would also stop people from memorising. Over time, we have found that these developments instead of pulling us back, have only helped us to scale greater heights in societal development, economic upliftment, scientific growth and technological innovations.

Sergei Brin 
How can we insulate ourselves from the harmful effects of a Google shutdown ? Let me start with the Google effect. 

For example most of us Google site maximum for
1. Internet search
2. Gmail is our indispensable mailing client  
3. most important, Google Drive is also our precious online storage, stores all my class notes, case study manuscripts and final pdfs, academic writings and so on. 
4. It is an indispensable word processing client, most of us have chucked MS and its products for many years now.  
5. Google Blogger additionally serves as valuable teaching aid that supplements classroom teaching, reaching out to the "knowledge-thirsty" student community all over the world.  
6. Google News keeps us updated with events happening around the world and it updates us on a minute-by-minute basis.  
7. Google Maps helps us in Bengaluru to tide over the painstaking traffic by giving real time updates on the traffic conditions in Bangalore
The only two areas where Google has still not entered is in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and E-learning portals. In a world thirsting for knowledge, the earlier Google enters, the better it is for them - just my opinion !!

If Google decides to shut down, most of us are in for serious trouble, as are a good part of the world population !! If Google decides to withdraw its free offerings and charges, we may or may not go for it, that's a different issue. The fact is Google is not in this field of business just for money (like Microsoft..), as much as for their passion for innovation and enterprise ..

The greatest attraction of Google's parent company Alphabet, which has grown inorganically through over 200+ acquisitions over a 19 year period, is its passion to innovate. Google always has a surprise element in its offering and this brings in the needed novelty. Any person logging in anytime never gets bored and is attracted to its different offerings. It could also bring psychological states of addiction in some cases.

How Google Maps helps me tide over the unruly Bengaluru traffic ?

Google's secrets of Innovation .. Susan Wojcicki, earlier Google VP Advertising ...

Google surprises the world with its stream of innovative products ..

Google's innovation potential brought the Google LunarXprize challenge, which Team Indus from Bangalore is very confident of winning.  The prize money is $30 million ..

The problem I feel which could be a major threat is, what if somebody with a lot of money takes over Google ? What if the new owner of Google is not an enterprising, as innovative, as inventive, as open minded, as unorthodox, as unconventional, as inventive and as ingenious as Page and Brin ?

For the time being lets hope such an eventuality never happens !!
Maybe the Google effect will help us conquer some other dimensions of human intelligence which humanity is yet to conceive and comprehend !
george

Ref : 1. Ramaprasad, T, The Google Effect - Maybe good, maybe bad, The Hindu, April 2012. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A primer on Cryptocurrencies ...

Of late we are seeing the rising surge in use of virtual currency - cryptocurrencies and the issue of many Initial Crypto Offerings (ICO) in the market..

The most popular however happens to be Bitcoin and Ethereumn and some more .. We shall try to explain something about bitcoin, the most popular of them.  

Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin and everyone can take part. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment system.- bitcoin.org

Value of bitcoins ...
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a digital payment system invented by an unknown programmer, or a group of programmers, under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. It was released as open-source software in 2009.
The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, bitcoin is called the first decentralized digital currency.
Besides being created as a reward for mining, bitcoin can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services in legal or black markets.
As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment. According to research produced by Cambridge University in 2017, there are 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin. - wikipedia.com

Cryptocurrencies together around the world presently have a combined value of about $80 billion .. (click here for the Economist article ..)

What are the advantages of Cryptocurrencies ?

1. Limited nos of currency in circulation, issue of fake currency is totally removed with encryption and distributed database
2. Difficult to duplicate as it each transaction needs confirmation/authentication from a digital database - the blockchain
3. Just like shares, a cryptocurrency value can fluctuate as more people start using it and can be reliable form of currency
4. The volume of crytocurrencies in use also increase at a predetermined rate in such a way that the value does not skyrocket at any point of time and holds it within reasonable limits. Bitcoins which were issues at $.05 in 2008 are now valued at more than $2420 as of 24 May 2017.
5. It is a global currency, no central bank controls it. The distributed database (blockchain) of the coins and the great secrecy with which it is encrypted makes the database difficult to breach or hack.
6. It gives customers freedom to store their wealth in national currencies or digital currencies
7. As digital currencies escape national government regulations, it is a definite pointer to a unified global currency and unified global markets.
8. The extensive range of use and applications of the block chain concept and encrypted digital currencies can ensure stability in global financial markets in future.
9. More popular an encrypted digital currency, more will be its usage and more value will come out of it.
10. The innovative uses of cryptocurrencies and blockchain is limitless, it could even change the way we do business in future cutting across national boundaries.

The Challenges :
1. The transaction cost is now at $6 per transaction which could demotivate large transactional volume
2. Transaction times can be anywhere from 2-3 hours as databases on blockchain around the world have to be referred before finalising any transaction.
3. Big IT firms can have hold and control of future cryptocurrencies and they could attempt to throttle free enterprise and monopolise global economic transactions
4. Can it be used in the wrong way like for example to finance extortions or drug money transactions ?
The coming days will definitely see innovative uses and applications of the concepts of cryptocurrencies  and blockchain database across the world. Let us wait for more of it. 

george..

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mukesh Ambani shares entrepreneurial lessons ..

Mukesh Ambani is India's richest industrialist, though Reliance family is second to Tata Sons as the largest business conglomerate in India.

Frankly speaking, I used to think of him as a person who inherited a great business empire from his father. Despite academic qualification from one of the best business schools of the world, I really had doubts whether he would succeed. But the recent launch of Jio telecom which made India the most competitive telecom field in the world was something which would make everyone stand and applaud. Putting up to $33 billion into the telecom sector in the new startup, he not only made Jio the most promising telecom player in India, he made India the most competitive telecom field in the world. Even Vodafone had to call quits, were it not for Birla's Idea Telecom's timely intervention.

Recently while talking to a crowd of well-wishers, fellow industrialists and media persons at a NASSCOM event, he shared his life lessons on entrepreneurship.

Though these lessons are simple, they are heavy weight, worth their weight in gold... Since it comes from one of India's greatest entrepreneurs, it has great value for youngsters and old alike. Click here for the youtube video of the talk..

Here are his life lessons, hope someone out there benefits from it.

1. Figure out what one wants to do in life, what dream to pursue ..

2. Find a problem one is passionate about before finding a solution to the problem

3. In whatever actions or dreams one pursues, create societal value which benefits the society first, later financial returns will follow ..

4. Realise that failures are just a step before success, learn from them and never give up.

The next two points he says are non-negotiable ..

5. Treat investor's money with great care than one's own money

6. Have the right passionate team aligned with one's mission

7. Always be optimistic, entrepreneurs help spread positive energy in society

Now my respect for this person has increased by many times. As he says, creating societal value is one thing entrepreneurs should be primarily concerned about. When Mukesh visited IIT Bombay during the late 90s, though I attended hsi talks, I never then was impressed by his capabilities and personality.

Now I am thoroughly impressed with this person and his abilities to influence society and work wonders. I still have some anguish at the way he handles national wealth of oil in the Krishna Godavari basin for his personal aggrandisement.

george..

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Why is General Motors exiting India .. ?

General Motors , over a century of operations around the world ..
After India's attraction as a manufacturing hub for some of the global popular and mid-range auto majors like Ford, GM, VW, Toyota, Renault, Hyundai, Suzuki, Skoda, Fiat, Volvo, BMW, Audi, Mercedes etc, for the first time we find GM is exiting India. As a management case study it makes great sense as to what went wrong with GM's India operations at Taloja, Maharashtra plant and how they could have salvaged it.

US takes pride in General Motors as the second great automobile company to come out of US in 1908 in the last century. One of its greatest CEOs Alfred P. Sloan already has the MIT Institute of Management named after this great leader. It is a great shock to the rest of the world and a great lesson for other automobile companies from around the world who already have operations in India or are planning to open up new ones to understand what went wrong with GM India strategies ? GM India now makes cars only for the Latin American market. 

The major reasons for GM India operations failure as has been outlined after a research by Prof. Vijay Govindarajan of Tuck School of Business are five in number (HBR, June 2017 issue).

After a thorough analysis of the reasons of the inglorious exit, we find the withdrawal of GM from India is due to the failure in two fronts, leadership and strategy.

Failure in Leadership 
1. Frequent change of Indian leadership - 9 CEOs have come and gone in 21 years heading the India operations, though the latest has been around for 14 years. The long term impact of frequent change made the situation within the country very fluid and no leader had a vision and long term plan for the company in India, GM having already exited from India two times in the past.
2. Local leaders never got autonomy to take independent decisions - Indian operations being large and catering to a billion plus population needs to have lot of autonomy content inbuilt, Indian CEO cannot be interacting with Global CEO and with Global HQ for each and every action to be taken to spearhead Indian day to day operations. This lack of autonomy to Indian CEO affected GM India operations and dented it's image much. 
Failure in planning strategies 
1. Indian operations can be run only with India specific strategies -  India being a global player and set to lead global economy by 2050 AD, cannot be expected to follow strategies suited for other economies. India is by nature very cost conscious and Indian customers are some of the greatest cost bargainers and at the same time demand unparalleled quality in the products, unlike other global customers. Global Companies need to look at such stringent cost and quality constraints as opportunities for growth and global leadership. General Motors failed to understand this truth in India. (the recent example of Vodafone running scared of their Indian telecom operations finally having to team up with Birla's Idea telecom is an example to quote) Suzuki and Hyundai, global auto leaders have suited their operations to manufacture sub compact cars for the middle class customers and have reaped intense benefit, together they control about 65% of Indian market.
2. Indian strategy has to be focused on volumes and scale, not just on expensive high end cars - Indian customers are very diligent when it comes to spending money on cars. They study the market carefully, make personal observations and ask their friends and relatives many times before finalising on a high value purchase - a societal norm too. Indian customers are extremely obsessed with value for money and do not allow themselves to be taken for a ride by the automobile companies. Companies that have a good dealership and maintenance chain across the country frequently do succeed in their domestic operations. Maruti, Hyundai, Tata etc have great maintenance network across the country.
3. Lack of a long term strategy - a long term strategy is much needed for success in Indian markets. India having opened to almost all auto-majors of the world now is a great ground for improving product competitiveness. It also holds promise to be the world's largest automobile market very soon especially with the advent of electric cars. Short term myopic strategies rarely succeed and fail in India because Indian customers are some of the smartest in the world. Despite initial setbacks, a company that focuses on long term vision only can hold itself and withstand intense competition from other global competitive players operating within the country.

This GM India withdrawal case should be an eye opener not only in the automobile sector but in the FMCG sector too. Indian cost consciousness already is making waves in the high-tech space technology and atomic energy market, India leading over the rest of the world in high-quality cost consciousness.

India once again proves to the world, that though it outwardly appears to be a castaway, it is high time countries and companies around the world started taking it seriously, if it is to stay in business in the country and plan for its future survival in the world..

george..

Ref : 1. Govindarajan, Vijay and Gunjan Bagla, What US CEOs can learn from GM's India failure, HBR, June '17. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sadhguru on why we need to save our rivers

Sadhguru - Jaggi Vasudev ..
Great video.

Great civilizations around the world have thrived and survived on rivers. The Egyptian civilization around the river Nile, Mesopotamia civilization around the Euphrates Tigris, Indus Valley civilization around the river Indus, Chinese civilization around the river YangTseKiang etc.. 

Human civilization all over the globe over the past 10,000+ years have been interwoven with rivers, thriving on river banks .. 

Indian rivers in a single generation have from being perennial, become seasonal .. shocking ..

We need to save our rivers for survival of mankind on planet earth .. !!

https://youtu.be/u7HliAsgKH0

GE..

Will Indian politicians allow the US game plan to disrupt Asia ?

Has the Indian political establishment fallen to CIA designs and plans to disrupt Asian economic growth ? Yes, there are all indicators for that ..

By pitting India against China, US intelligence has managed to push both countries not to worry about their economic growth, and instead concentrate on the nationalistic pitch, gain cheap publicity for the leaders to find an excuse to fight and distract from productive growth. 

Indian political leaders have clearly fallen to these destructive plans, looked outside their economic growth and derailed the economy in the long run.

The present Indian PM instead of playing to the gallery should be smart enough to see through this US game to continue their economic and political domination of the world. The former Indian PM was intelligent and smart enough to understand this, understood the priorities and acted accordingly. 

Present Indian PM Modi should realise that it is quite easy to ruin the economy, but it is very difficult to build it to greater glory and prosperity.. 👍👍

GE..

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Kochi metro sustainability initiatives ..

For the first time in the world - Each of the stations on Kochi metro are Platinum certified GREEN BUILDINGS , the highest ratings for sustainable buildings across the world granted by the Indian Green Buildings Council. 
E Sreedharan's contribution to Kochi metro has been phenomenal ..

This recognition is besides the already existing reputation for Kochi metro as
1. the most advanced metro in terms of signalling systems, connectivity etc 
2. the cheapest one in the country (at Rs 220 crore/km compared to Rs 337.3 crore per km for Bangalore Namma Metro, a clean Rs 107.3 crore more per kilometre !!) and  
3. the fastest executed metro in the country in just three and a half years compared to Bengaluru Namma metrro which has been struggling to cover an additional . 
To cover phase I of Bengaluru Namma metro (43 km) which is 60% more than Kochi Metro distance of 26 km, Bengaluru Namma metro has incurred INR 13,800 crores over Kochi's INR 5200 crores, a clean 150 % more. Inefficiency or corruption whatever it be, this is shocking..

When we talk of green buildings, we have to say that all the Kochi metro stations are built using locally available materials ensuring least transportation of building materials and storage, least disrupting natural streams and wetlands, ensuring best use of natural lighting eliminating expensive unnecessary indoor lighting,  best use of natural ventilation,  maximum use of renewable energy - almost 25% is solar energy and recycling of water, ensuring very healthy places to gather and travel to. 
The surprise never ends ! 👍

LED lighting across all stations, water efficient toilet fittings and rainwater harvesting in stations makes the Kochi Metro a greatly renewable energy type of ecosystem, recycling the precious resource of water, unheard of anywhere in the world ! 👍 Even every fourth pillar of the metro is an enviable hanging green garden full of flowers and rejuvenating the environment with Oxygen.

In short, the Kochi metro has the lowest Carbon footprint among all the 200 metros of the world !! 🙏, making Kochi leaping towards being recognised as the green capital of the world, with the world's first and only 100% solar energy powered and energy neutral International airport in the world, competing along with the Kochi Metro.

george.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Byju's coaching classes.

Turning a coaching business to a mammoth online education venture worth $600 million in 2017, generating revenues of Rs. 260 crores, headquartered in Bengaluru in just 10 years from 2007 is a mammoth task.

Especially the organisation when it gets featured as a Harvard case it raises many an eyebrow. It is just great to read how this Malayalam-medium student from Azhikode, Kannur, Kerala is leading Byju's to be  India's first edu-based unicorn ..

Running the organisation, exhibiting great leadership
Byju's has already been valued at $600 million and set to be India's first edu-tech unicorn (>$ 1 billion valuation), It has already been financed by venture capitalists Sequoia Capital and Sofina, Chan Zuckerberg initiative and so on.

Byju, an Engineer by profession was already giving coaching to his roommates on how to crack the Indian Institutes of Management Common Admission Test, already having cracked it twice with 99.9 percentile, he loved the teaching profession. Both his parents are teachers.

Even though Byju's started initially as a classroom coaching class, it spread to classes in huge two thousand seater halls and later to recorded sessions in other cities of India, to Tab based teaching and from 2015, it has moved to Smartphone app based teaching (Android and iOS based) .. www.byjus.com ..

Today Byjus caters to a whole lot of competitive entrance exams in the country starting from UPSC exams, IIM entrance exam CAT, IIT JEE, NEET for medical entrance, GMAT management aptitude exams for foreign Management Institutes, +1 and +2 preparations..

We wish this largest great edu-tech venture which is exploiting the power of technology to scale up in volume and to grow large.

Here is a very short management casestudy prepared on the challenges faced by Byju's at scaling up, how to overcome them and look out for innovative ways to make the learning ecosystem bright and colourful all over the world... May be useful to business school students to understand the challenges faced by educational startups from any part of the world and why they find it difficult to scale up.

george..



Wednesday, June 07, 2017

World's first carbon-neutral village - Meenangaadi in Wayanad, Kerala ..

Ponds help raise watertable and charge wells
In 2006, the English village of Ashton Hayes of 10,000 people tried to become the world's first Carbon neutral community. Over the last decade they could reduce their emissions by 23% but is still to be a carbon-neutral community. 

When the all-polluting US and the Western world is struggling to live up to their  promises to build a greener world, Meenangaadi village in Wayanad district in Kerala has already taken the great steps to become by 2020 the world's first carbon-neutral village ..

With the active cooperation of the supporting government, public and the local administrators, the village of Meenangaadi is becoming a model to the whole world !!

Another pond of the 467 new ones dug to catch water ..
The Finance Minister of the state of Kerala in India Dr Thomas Issac went to Paris in Nov 2015 to present a paper on Waster Disposal at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, He came back with an audacious plan - make Meenangaadi, a village of 34,000 people in Wayanad district as India's first Carbon-neutral village by 2020.

Nestled in the Western Ghats this village of 34,000 people over 54 sq. km has been facing the worst implications of climate change, with drop in rainfall precipitation and lowering of water table, a decline in rice production and spices like cardamom, pepper, tea, coffee etc.. By 2050 AD, the average rise in temperature around this area is predicted to be around 2.5-3 deg C

Beena Vijayan, Meenangaadi gram panchayat president
taking soil samples to find the Carbon content in
Meenangaadi soil. Courtesy - The Hindu. 
The villagers are well aware of the ills of pollution, they have been well informed of the benefits of a carbon neutral environment for their children and grandchildren and together they sincerely desire the town to be carbon-neutral. Not to forget, the impact they would be making globally as the first Carbon neutral village of the world !!
"To bring the town’s net carbon dioxide emissions down to zero, we will conserve and expand our forests, plant more trees, reduce carbon emissions from households, promote self sustenance through organic farming, and recycle our waste.” - Beena Vijayan, Meenangaadi gram panchayat President .
Scenic views around Meenangaadi ..
In their greening spree, the villagers have planted on 38 acres of land (the area of 20 football pitches)  which includes public and private land, 4,50,000 coffee plants, 32,500 cardamom trees and 20,000 other shade trees which were provided to the villagers for free by the panchayat. Free organic vegetable seed and buds belonging to cabbage, cauliflower, tomato, beans, bitter gourd, ladies finger, tapioca and chilli were also provided to the villagers to help imbibe a sense of awareness of organic farming practices among the villagers.

The crematorium in the village now runs on LPG saving precious wood which was earlier used to burn dead bodies. The town has completely shifted to LED bulbs and in even envisaging starting an LED bulb manufacturing firm in the village to meet the needs (the problem of having to offset the carbon emissions from the plant would be the next problem for them).

Getting ready to get global attention ..
Of the 467 ponds newly dug in the village to help raise water table and charge the wells in the town. almost 420 of them are fish rearing bringing extra revenue for the people of the village and for owners of private compounds where some of these ponds have been dug. The village has also set up an aerobic composting plant, that converts the organic wet waste in the village to manure that could be used for the vegetation. A bio-gas plant to convert organic waste to energy and a solar park that will feed electricity to the energy grid of the state are other ways by which the village is planning to go carbon-neutral.

The MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) Chennai is helping the village authorities along with a group, Thanal from Trivandrum to do a soil audit and energy consumption audit in each of the houses in the village to find out how much Carbon the village emits and then offset it by their innovative actions as outlined above.

George..

Ref : 1. Balachandran Manu, The world's first Carbon neutral town could end up in the planet's most polluted country, qz.com, Last visited 24 June 2017.

         2. www.thebetterindian.com, Kerala village to be the first Carbon-neutral panchayat, , Last visited 23 June 2017

        3. Manoj, E.M., Meenangaadi marches to Carbon-neutral tag, The Hindu, March 2017..

Yoga - India's contribution to the world !!

Friday, June 02, 2017

Brilliant Rifath and a mediocre Indian education system.

The smartest kid in India as accepted by the world and developer of the 64 g KALAMSAT, would not even get a chance to study with the less intelligent dumbos in IITs and other Engg. colleges, but would go with a heavy scholarship to MIT.

What a messed up, screwed up and useless higher education system we have ! To make more idiots !!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A commentary on Indo-China relations and Dhola-Sadiya bridge ..

Will India's Dhola-Sadiya bridge fuel peace or confrontation between India and China ?

India's 9.15 km longest Dhola-Sadiya bridge acros the Lohit river, a tributary of the mighty Bhramaputra river, from Dhola in Assam to Sadiya in Arunachal Pradesh, was inaugurated by the Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during the last week of January 2017. The bridge building has caused some displeasure in China. 

Even though construction started in 2010 it took 7 long years to complete after spending more than two thousand crores of rupees, though the initial estimate was about one third that amount. Besides poor project management skills exhibited on the bridge construction, it is also poised to ruffle a few feathers in the political tussle between India and China.   

Looking from the Indian standpoint, the issue is different as when looking from the Chinese viewpoint. Arunachal Pradesh has been a disputed territory between India and China for the past seventy years ever since the British left India. We call Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India, the Chinese call it Eastern Tibet, and that is where the dispute still exists.

China does not show any consideration or respect to global opinion while expanding its territorial claims in the South China sea. Despite global protests, China unilaterally bulldozed all protests and built airstrips on the Spratley Islands and in slowly arming it with fighter planes and naval ships. 

Nobody has any objection to China improving its physical infrastructure within its borders neighbouring India. But this has caused natural discomfort on the Indian side, whether this is going to be a repeat of the 1962 incident when despite pretensions of comraderie and friendship, slogans of Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai between Indian and China, it invaded parts of India and annexed it to its side.
China with a known history of looking only at personal interests over its neighbours, thus is a great threat to global peace and harmony. Throughout history if we look carefully, except for the past 300 years China has never had made a larger contribution than India to humanity in terms of culture, economic growth and the like.

China on the other hand behind India in economic and cultural growth, even in terms of education, had a growth of its economy from 1700 AD to 1820, when it became larger than India and then started fading out. 

Under the single party Communist rule, China has had great progress economically making it the largest and most powerful economy of the world. But is it long lived ? Can the interests and aspirations of its citizens for freedom of speech and action be subjugated for long ? It is not long time before its citizens would rebel against the state and try to reaffirm their personal freedom and liberties.

The other view point in this episode, is one whether US is playing behind the scenes to keep India and China apart, they do not have an economic or military alliance that can challenge US hegemony over the world. 

If there is a repeat dispute between India and China over Arunachal Pradesh in the near future, the world can take it for granted that US will keep off the dispute and let the two super powers of the world fight it out between themselves. India and China being aware of this ditching efforts by US, is playing safe. India's foreign policy strategy has been despite US high handed behaviour across the world. 

The next two years for the world and especially for India would be very crucial in that there would be a reassessment of global power equations


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Terrestrial transportation - How fast are todays trains ?

TGV
In the mass public terrestrial transport systems of the world, we find three technologies are dominating.

The first, TGV from France runs on electric drives dominated by Alstom from France, Magnetic levitation (Maglev) technology pioneered by the Germans, powering the Transrapid Monorail in Germany and Shanghai airport metro. The third is the futuristic Hyperloop from Elon Musk which they claim is fastest at app 1000 kmph.

Shanghai Maglev
Lets get to know a brief about these three technologies.

The French Train a' Grand Vitesse (TGV) is no doubt, the fastest in the world presently having clocked 574.8 kmph in a 2007 run (click here for video).

The German Maglev trains working on Maglev technology (click here for a primer on maglev technology) runs the fastest Maglev from city of Shanghai to Pudong Airport , 17 miles which it covers in 7 minutes (click here for the video..)

Hyperloop technology from Elon Musk can beat all this (still in design stage and futuristic) .. (click here for the technology video). My blog on Hyperloop detailing the business aspects and technology, (click here for the blogpost). Instead of spending mpney on R&D developing their own proprietary technology, Hyperloop technologies conducts global competition inviting technological innovations using hyperloop, thereby limiting the time to develop and implement innovative, fast, energy efficient solutions that could take care of global transportation problems in the future.

Do we see the next futuristic technology with the advent of fuel cells, Lithium ion batteries, solar energy proliferation in the coming years ??

India is slowly getting on the fast train track, but with conventional electric locomotives on advanced tracks set up on the Mumbai Goa Konkan rail route. India's fastest train Tejas now runs at 200 kmph between CST Mumbai and Karmali Goa. 

george..


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

An IAF Officer's passion for agriculture ..


S. Parameshwaran was my  classmate at the College of Engineering, Trivandrum during Mechanical Engineering under-graduation days. He also hails from near my hometown of Chennithala, in Alleppey district of Kerala, a small state in the southern tip of India, from a place called Mannar. 

Parameshwaran, fit as a fiddle, went on to join the Indian Air Force after engineering and retired from IAF as a Wing commander way back in early 2010 after 26 years of meritorious service. After seeing his only daughter getting married off and going with her husband and a short stint in Bangalore, resettling back in Mannaar was very boring for Parameshwaran and his wife. But he hit upon this brilliant idea of going back to nature and taking up agriculture.

In his 2 acre land in Mannaar he started cultivating vegetables as a hobby initially around 2015. Even though the first year was a great loss, he did not give up. Continuing from the second year he has been able to break it even. Even though he gets a good pension from the IAF, the simple pleasure of being able to reduce the carbon footprint and giving back to the society and nature through a green way of living, causing very less destruction to the surroundings and the habitat, has given much more satisfaction to Parameshwaran than the earnings he makes from agriculture.

Parameshwaran leads a very systematic disciplined life, getting up daily at 4.30 AM and working in his field till 7.30 AM. After breakfast and rest, he is back in action this time taking and selling the farm produce in the local farm department store in Chennithala. The high quality education and experience Parameshwaran has gathered over two and a half decades in the Indian Air Force has got him looking at improving the productivity of the farming operation with reduced inputs, maximizing the outputs with practically nil application of chemical fertilizers.

Interacting and taking help from agricultural experts Paramu has been able to make use of the high-tech drip irrigation concepts to conserve water during summer season. His interactions with the farming department officials have given him an idea of what crops to cultivate, in what quantities and when.

In short Parameshwaran through his life is giving a great example of how agriculture can be pursued to give back meaning to our life and existence on this planet. How we can live with low carbon footprints and give back to nature even maybe in very small measure, but a definite quantity, be it either in reduced carbon footprints, or giving a chance to the bees, the butterflies and the birds to live on this planet for a few years more.

In our excessive quest for showing off our materialistic gains and wealth, we ignore mother nature and the gifts she has bestowed on us. Let us try to give back to mother nature in whatever small way it is possible for us.

Hats off to Parameshwaran for taking the bold, courageous and generous step of being one with nature and giving back to nature. He has already completed a TV show for a US TV channel, to be aired soon and is a favourite spot for field visits for the future responsible citizens of our country, kids from schools near and far. The motivation he has created among his old classmates is also high, that some of them are planning to intern with him, including myself, and learn the simple joys of agriculture and giving back to society in more deeper and meaningful ways.

george.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kochi Metro, another living example of Sridharan magic ....

We have heard of E Sridharan IES, doing wonders starting with the Pamban bridge, Calcutta Metro, Konkan Railway and the world class Delhi Metro.
Metro stalwarts in the country ..

After retiring from Govt of India at the very respectable age of 79, Sridharan was approached by the Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy to lead the Kochi Metro. Sreedharan has been associated with the Kochi Metro authorities and Govt of Kerala representatives besides the political representatives for the past four years. Sridharan and Elias George MD of Kochi Metro have done wonders to get the cheapest, most modern and fastest Metro execution in India.

Of the initially planned 25.65 km stretch from Aluva in the North of Kochi city to Petta in the South as part of the first phase, 10 kms stretching from Aluva to Palarivattom will start running in the next three weeks. The trial runs have been successfully completed. Anytime the commercial running for the public can start after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi finds time to come to Kochi for the inauguration in the next two weeks. Meanwhile all other work of sprucing up the stations etc is going on in full swing.

Technical Features :  
Construction Methodology: Elevated viaduct carried over pre-stressed concrete ‘U/I’ shaped girders with pile / open foundations
Rolling Stock: 2.9 m wide modern rolling stock with stainless steel body, standard gauge axle load of 15 tonnes
Voltage: 750 V DC
Power Supply Source: 110Kv AC
Power Collection: Third Rail Bottom Collection
System: Light Metro System
Type of Signalling: Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) with ATO & ATP
Telecommunication: Integrated system with Fibre Optic cables, SCADA, Train radio, PA system etc                        (data from Railway technology.com
The estimated completion cost of the Metro First Phase (also called Komet or K-3C) from Aluva to Pettah covering 22 stations would cost about INR 5200 crores (app $900 million). Work is also started to extend the northern station from Aluva to the Kochi International airport in Nedumbassery to effect a convenient metro link from the airport right upto Pettah.

Route map of Kochi metro
Alstom of France with its factory at Sri City Andhra Pradesh has been given the $107 million contract to supply most modern 3 bogie, 65 m long and 2.9 metre wide, 25 metropolis train sets to Kochi metro.

The Delhi Metro now runs for 213 kms covering 160 stations from the intial 7 kms stretch for which work started on 24 December 2002, serves almost 26.6 lakh passengers daily and has since inception carried almost 1.24 billion passengers.

The Kochi metro on completion of the first phase will run for 25.6 kms. In future, we can imagine the development this Mass Rapid Transit System can bring to Kochi and help in its expansion to global standards, even surpassing other Indian and global cities. Having the reputation for the cheapest and most advanced metro project stations in the country, we hope the Kochi Metro will climb greater heights and repute over the years.

Sridharan with former CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy at Aluva, 2015 pic.
Like the Kochi International airport 5 kms away from Aluva in Nedumbassery, is the first and only insolated (fully solar energy powered) international airport in the world, we hope the Kochi Metro will carve a name for itself in terms of technical specifications, energy efficiency and effectiveness, comfort to people and customer friendliness in the country and the world in the coming days.

There is a great lesson in this to learn for the Government of Karnataka executing  Bangalore Namma Metro.

The basic lessons from the Kochi Metro are the following :
1. Get the required funding and a very experienced consultant to oversee the Project 
2. Plan for the most modern technology and design for the metro, network with all stakeholders 
3. Get a Project Management team strong in engineering expertise and project management skills 
4. Effect a smooth and fast implementation on sound Project Management skills 
5. Keep all levels politicians away during the project execution stage, to avoid favouritism and allegations of corruption 
6. Be straightforward and frank in all dealings with all stake holders 
7. Always work with the bigger picture of planned city development, passenger safety, low costs and comfort in mind.
8. Have great communication  with all stakehoiders and between employees at all stages right from planing to final handing over and running. 
A global wonder, a 2 km bridge reconstructed in just 45 days..
Presently Sridharan is also appointed to the United Nations Organisation, overlooking Mass Rapid Transit Systems in Asia, Africa and Latin America. He has been invited to serve in the United Nations High Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport for a period of three years from 2015. (HLAG-ST).  Sridharan accepted this 3 year assignment to serve the United Nations at the ripe age of 82 years. !!

The country now awaits the Central Govt to start procedures to confer its highest National Civilian Honour of "Bharat Ratna" on E Sridharan !! He is already a Kohinoor to Indians. Bharat Ratna is not going !


In 1964, after a major cyclone hit the 2 km long, (1914 constructed), Pamban bridge, connecting Indian mainland in Southern tip to Rameshwaram, washing it off, Sridharan inspite of the Army wanting to get it reconstructed in a very short time of 6 months, *got it back and running in just 45 days time* .. 🙏🙏. Sridharan is very proud of this and often quotes this as one of his best achievements ever !!, when he was just 31 years of age and a bachelor !!

george..


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Indian boy designs world's smallest satellite ..

Looks like our youngsters are getting ready to rewrite rules of society and science .. They are focused, with a definite purpose and are getting to aim at the stars. The great solace is they are not looking for government to handhold them and train them in the sloppy government way of doing things slowly. They are raring to go and reach the stars. Here I am introducing a young, I mean 18 year old boy from Pallapatti town in Tamil Nadu, India.

Dr Kalam could not be any happier than this ..
18 year old Rifath Sharook from Pallapatti village in Tamil Nadu, India has designed the world's smallest satellite ever, a 64 cu. cm (4 cm side), weighing 64 gram, made of Carbon fibre material and 3D-printed for a sub-orbital life of just 12 minutes after being launched aboard  NASA rocket from Wallop's island on June 21, 2017.

Dr. Abdul Kalam could not have been given any greater tribute than this !! His efforts of simplifying and popularising science and technology in every nook and corner of the country irrespective of age, caste and religion could not have found a greater reward than through the Kalamsat - a tribute from an 18 year old boy from rural India ..

No Nobel Prize or other global recognition would have been more fitting for Dr Kalam, the rural India's scientific saviour, the person who brought the whole of India to the forefront in Science and Technology and inspired them to do world-beating feats than this greatest feat ....

We have never heard of a Kennedysat or Breshnevsat, but here comes a Kalamsat !!
It is definitely a great tribute from a village student to one of the greatest and humble Indian scientists ever, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Rifath Sharook may not be a high scoring student in his school, but sent a very strong message to the world that education is just a tool for getting exposed to the basics, rest all is with our mind applying what we have learned !! Dr Kalam's dream is going to be realised very soon !! - Karthi, HCL, Bangalore, 
The perfect tribute to India's greatest scientist
On the one hand, the major countries of the world, with Russia and US leading including India, are trying to launch heavier and heavier satellites and we find a brilliant young boy from India shocking the world with his tiny satellites ...

Read the news item here .. I am sure ISRO and it's 16,000 + scientists and technologists would learn some hard and humbling lessons from this exercise. It is not just high marks and academic brilliance that can help an organisation, but it is the finesse and flair of mind to be able to use these ideas through scientific principles for benefit of mankind and ultimate use to society, that will make the biggest difference..

Let this humbling experience help us to firm up our resolve to use the country's scientific and technological expertise to make a BETTER SUSTAINABLE WORLD, not just a richer, healthier and stronger country (as other advanced countries brazenly, outrageously pursue and unrepentently propagate .. )
It was a NASA competition to send the lightest satellite in the world and this boy won it..  ISRO may now  think of going to villages schools to recruit brains .. real talent is in villages ! 😊🙏
George.. 


TED talk - How to grow fresh air indoors ?

Money plant that release abundant oxygen can be easily grown indoors . How to grow fresh air indoors ?? What are the challenges offer...

My popular posts over the last month ..